WASHINGTON, June 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Massachusetts today delivers a landmark victory for kids and public health over the tobacco industry by becoming the first state to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.
By fully implementing its law today, Massachusetts is taking a historic step toward ending the tobacco industry's long and deadly history of targeting kids, African Americans and other groups with menthol cigarettes and other flavored products. This law will protect the health of children, address tobacco-related health disparities, help more smokers quit and save lives for generations to come. It comes at a critical time as health experts warn that smoking and vaping can worsen the effects of COVID-19.
Massachusetts in November passed its law ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. The law immediately ended the sale of flavored e-cigarettes – a necessary step to reverse skyrocketing youth use of e-cigarettes and prevent e-cigarettes from addicting a new generation. Today, the law ends the sale of other flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.
Massachusetts is the first state to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products (three other states – New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island – have also ended the sale of flavored e-cigarettes). The Massachusetts law sets a tremendous example that other states and the entire nation should follow in order to stop the tobacco industry's predatory targeting of kids and communities of color once and for all.
Ending the sale of menthol cigarettes will have enormous public health benefits, especially among African Americans. For decades, the tobacco industry has targeted kids, African Americans and other groups with marketing for menthol cigarettes, with devastating consequences. Today, more than half of all youth smokers – including seven out of ten African-American youth smokers – and 85% of all African-American smokers smoke menthols.
Menthol cools and numbs the throat and masks the harshness of tobacco smoke, making it easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. As a result, African Americans quit smoking at lower rates and suffer high rates of tobacco-related diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, emphysema and diabetes. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death for African Americans. Ending the sale of menthol cigarettes will reduce the number of young people who start smoking, help more smokers quit – especially African Americans – and reduce tobacco-related health disparities.
It is important to note that the Massachusetts law only prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products and penalizes retailers who sell flavored products. It does not make it illegal for someone to purchase, possess or use flavored products.
In recognition of Massachusetts' milestone law, 40 public health, social justice and other groups today placed a full-page advertisement in the Boston Globe thanking the state for enacting this first-in-the-nation measure.
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids